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HEAD OF SCHOOL MESSAGE: INTENTIONAL THANKFULNESS

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Reflecting the Gospel through gratitude

As many of you know my bride, Terri, and I have been blessed with two children, Andrew and Rachel. Both are grown, married, and are off living their lives and are doing well with ‘adulting.’ While we are thankful for this, there are certain points along this empty nesting path that stir up memories, and when the calendar rolls over to November and Thanksgiving warm memories of their growing up surface and from these, I believe we all can grow. 

When Andrew and Rachel were small there was an animated video series called Veggie Tales that was all the rage in our home and many others with similar-aged children. Our kids really enjoyed the stories and the accompanying songs, no matter how silly, because woven in each story was a simple yet strong message. In one video which focused around a rather rotund blueberry, the simple yet strong message of being thankful was the focus. Toward the end, one of the characters, Annie, sang the ‘Thankfulness Song’ and from this child-centered song grows my encouragement and challenge for us. 

We live in a world where fingers can be quickly and hotly pointed toward something or someone that does not exactly align with what we desire. Words can become weaponized; threats, veiled or direct, can surface and people can easily be devalued or dismissed if certain preferences are not met. Whenever this occurs it does not align with Scripture, and I am certain it saddens and grieves the Father.

As believers, you and I are called to be salt and light to a fallen world. We have numerous opportunities to reflect the simple yet strong message of the Gospel to those who come across our path each day. Some are fellow believers, and some are not. However, we have the opportunity to reflect the Gospel to them by what we say and do.  In Paul’s concluding remarks in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica he instructs the following: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Joyful always – give thanks in all circumstances? If I am being honest, that instruction is beastly difficult as I look back over what we have experienced in the last 18 to 24 months and especially over the last three weeks since my mother’s passing. Yet, that is what you and I are called to do – what I am dubbing intentional thankfulness.  

As I am striving to lean hard on the Father, and some days are better than others, I am convinced that in order to display this intentional thankfulness, I must allow the Holy Spirit to renew my mindset to that of the Father’s. In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul urges this exact idea, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. …” This is written as a continual, on-going process for us as we yield ourselves to the Father. Finally, in John 15 Jesus teaches us to abide in Him. If we abide or remain in Him, our mindset can conform to His as we rest and walk in Him.  Displaying intentional thankfulness, no matter the circumstance, will set you and me apart from what the world is exhibiting. I believe it will be noticeable. In choosing this we can follow little Annie’s path from Veggie Tales– “A thankful heart is a happy heart… it’s an easy place to start.”

So, as we roll deeper into November and in each of our lives, I hope you will join me on this journey of displaying and living out the simple yet strong message of intentional thankfulness.

Grace and peace to you all.

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